Turkey prepares to fight Kurds in northern Syria

Turkey announced Tuesday it is prepared to move into Syria to attack Kurdish rebels it considers terrorists as President Donald Trump defended Turkey on social media.

Turkey President Tayyip Erdogan, shown here speaking at the United Nations in September, said this week his country is prepared to fight Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. Photo by John Angelillo

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday it planned to move into northern Syria to eliminate “terrorist elements” and to return Syrian refugees.

“It is maybe today or tomorrow the time to clear the way for (our) peace efforts which is set and the process for them was started,” Erdogan said. “Turkey backs the territorial integrity of Syria and the political and administrative unity of Syrians.”

Kurdish forces have led the fight to eliminate the Islamic State in northern Syria with the support of U.S. troops. President Donald Trump said late Sunday that the U.S. will pull out its troops to allow Turkey to move in, drawing the ire of Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Turkey called Kurdish groups like Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK; People’s Protection Units, or YPG; and the Democratic Union Party, or PYD, as terrorist organizations, regardless of their support of the U.S. The YPK currently controls land east of the Euphrates River.

Gabriel Keno, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said his members are ready for the fight.

“Threats made by Turkey to attack the area is not something new, they have constantly done it for years,” Keno said. “We as Syrian Democratic Forces take the matter into account and are fully prepared to fiercely respond to any imminent attack on Syrian soil.”

“So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact, they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 fighter jet,” Trump said on Twitter.

“They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining. Also remember, and importantly, that Turkey is an important member in good standing of NATO,” Trump continued.

In the tweet, Trump said Erdogan will be coming to the U.S. for a visit Nov. 13.

ByClyde Hughes